Writing School: Tools of the Trade

August 15th

Oh, hi there. How did your goals go this week? Did you sit down to write? Did you read?

My week was a draw. I did read. I’m thoroughly enjoying Wildwood. It is young adult, fun, easy and was perfect on the beach. I read about 300 pages, passing my goal.

I also received edits back on the first 80 pages of my novel, and am slowly making them. This isn’t writing, but is essential for this book to see the light of publishing day. (Also chanting my mantra: Thick skin makes for a better author. Thick skin. You can do this. Ohm…)

I’m calling it a win.

On writing: Workshop

Today’s topic: resource tools of the trade

What books have you read that have helped make you a better reader? Granted, all books help. As do magazines, blogs and cereal boxes. I am leery of writers who claim “not to have time to read.” Chances are, I’m not going to have time to read what they’ve written. As we’ve discussed, language is a fluid, beautiful stream of current thought. You’ve got to read to understand how our language has changed from “Romeo, oh Romeo — where art thou Romeo?” to “Kanye: hit me back, yo.”

A few of my favorite books and other reads critical to improving writing:

1. On Writing by Stephen King. The best writing memoir I’ve read, and I’ve got a dozen or so under my belt. Second would be Bird by Bird by Annie Lamott. Also incredibly well done and encouraging. I like King’s because he talks about routine and setting up your daily writing practice. I like Lamott’s because it feels like writing saved her. And any writer can tell you, it is a lonely endeavor and if your work doesn’t help pull you along — why bother?

2. Grammar Girl. Her stuff is fun and a good reminder of how to write well. Also, her podcast is great if you want something nerdy to listen to on the way to work.

3. A Word A Day by Anu Garg. Easy enough to understand why this is important. The weekend summaries from those who write in about their experiences with the week’s words are worth subscribing. Folks from around the world discuss their memories and experiences with the words of the week, which is extra nerdy and often hilarious.

4. The Elements of Style. Because proper word use is essential to success in nearly every profession. I keep a copy on my desk because for the life of me I still cannot remember the correct tenses of lay vs. lie or hung vs. hanged.

4. Go Fug Yourself. Sure, it is fashion gossip. It is also really well written, and in a contemporary voice. Thanks to these ladies, I know what “throwing shade” means.

(Oy, I’m feeling old.)

What are some of your favorite writing resource tools?

~K

 

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2 Responses

  1. I am way behind you on this front… I find that I tend to lose when it comes to descriptors. By lose I mean I show up the week after the race was held. I just struggle finding the way to take the images in my head and breaking them down so that the whole scene is captured (kind of important when it comes to magic realism).
    So, I read, and when I come across a section that just blows me away. I deconstruct it. This is annoying and tiresome, especially if I like the book and want to keep reading.
    I haven’t touched my writing, though I have dabbled in potential posts for my rather stream of consciousness blog.

  2. You go, Kelli! It takes a lot of courage and persistence to keep following your dreams. I enjoy reading Gretchen Rubin. She writes a lot about how her habits help with her writing. I’m a calligrapher, so that’s a different kind of writer, but I’m trying to get a side business going, so I’ve made it a point to set aside regular time to practice and hone my craft.

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